Three Great Fights

By Tom Donelson
Updated: July 17, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Last weekend, HBO did something unusual for boxing, they put together a great card with three action fights. The evening began with Walter Matthysse challenging Kermit Cintron for Cintron’s IBF welterweight belt.

Matthysse began the action by pressing forward toward the Puerto Rican, hoping to use his left hook to nail Cintron; but after the first two minutes, Cintron’s right hand took over.

Cintron’s more accurate punches took their toll quickly and with less than 30 second left in the rounds. A Cintron right sent Mattysse reeling before an upper cut sent the Argentine down.

The bell saved Matthysse, but it only delayed the inevitable execution. As the second round bell rang, he came out aggressively but a right sent him back to the canvas.

Cintron caught Matthysse with another right that led to a four punch combination.

The last two punches of this combination ended with a left hook followed by a right hand. By the time the final right hit its target, Matthysse was already out on his feet.

He was laid on his back as the referee stopped the fight.

Cintron looked like a more complete fighter than in the past and his defense improved as Matthysse failed to hit him with his patented left hook. He countered Matthysse’s aggressive style with his own right hand. The Emmanuel Steward influence started to show results as Cintron adapted a more mature style.

Arturo Gatti marched in the ring, taking on Contender star, Alfonso Gomez. A few years back, this would be considered an easy victory for Gatti but this edition of Gatti had not fought in nearly a year and his last fight was a beating at the hand of Carlos Baldimir.

Gomez started the first round with an excellent jab and appeared to be timing Gatti, who chose to box, stick and move. By the end of the third round, the boxing Gatti appeared to be losing the battle of jabs.

Gomez, while moving forward, outboxed Gatti. With a minute left in the fourth, a Gomez overhand right stopped Gatti in his track followed by four punch combination and Gatti stopped moving.

Gatti reduced his movement beginning of the fifth but throughout the round; it was Gomez who beat Gatti to the punch. Gatti looked a split second slower and the only thing that saved Gatti over the first five rounds was that Gomez did not have a knockout punch.

Halfway through the seventh round, Gomez nailed Gatti with a combination that sent Gatti sent to the rope. From this point, Gatti fought for his survival as Gomez simply threw punches after punches.

Gatti looked helpless in responding, rarely throwing back. After a minute of taking punches and bullying Gatti all over the ring, Gomez sent Gatti down and before the referee started his count; New Jersey commissioner Larry Hazzard jumped in the ring to stopped the fight.

Gatti looked like an old fighter as he could not deal with the younger Gomez. For Gatti, past ring wars showed its effect as he no longer could hold off Gomez’s punches. He could not escape Gomez’s punches and Gomez had no trouble finding him.

Gatti, like all fighters, viewed the end of his career. His reputation as the human highlight film suffered its last hooray. As for Gomez, the former Contender star, made his own statement as his overall skills pulled off an easy upset victory.

Gatti was never a great fighter but he was good fighter who provided boxing fans with some of the most entertaining fight over the past decade but his days as a main event fighter ended the moment that Gomez’s right sent him down for the final count.

After the fight, Gatti retired.

Paul Williams started throwing punches the opening seconds of his fight with Antonio Margarito. This match pitted two of boxing’s most prolific throwers and both fighters believe that a good offense trumps defense.

In the first round, Williams activity slowed Margarito down. As HBO’s Larry Merchant observed, “When two punchers averaged 100 punches face each other, only one will average 100.”

Margarito moved to the body in the second round to slow Williams’ offense and with a minute left, both men left loose with punches as both men warmed up.

Over the next several rounds, Williams dominated the action with his long reach and activity. Margarito looked puzzled and he could not nail Williams with his patented left hook. He was forced to use the right against the southpaw Williams.

In the middle of the sixth round, Margarito nailed with Williams with a tough left hook, but Williams still dominated most of the round with his jab. Margartio took up another notch in the seventh as his body shots began to show its effect.

From the seventh round on, Margarito started to impose his will and tightened the fight on the scorecard. In the 11th round, Margarito was his best.

He nailed Williams with a series of power punches and forced the slender Williams to hold his ground. His power began to take hold as the Mexican fighter went for broke.

Attack, attack and attack was Margarito strategy in a attempt to stem the tide and snatch victory from defeat. Going into the final round, Margartio needed to take the round to salvage a majority draw and keep his title.

Williams boxed and moved as he consistently nailed Margarito whereas Margarito could not counter or smack him with those sledgehammer rights that hurt Williams the round before. Williams came away with a unanimous decision.

The welterweight is now the big division with big name fighters as “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather are the big money fighters but underneath them are other great combatants.

Margarito is still one of the welterweight best even in defeat.

But if he had won, the next bout was scheduled to be Miguel Cotto, but Williams outworked and out hustled him.

Williams now holds one of the champions and for him, opportunities now open up.

A young undefeated American who is all action, he can join the other elites as a big money fighter. Williams took his first big step toward stardom.

This past Saturday saw the end of an action fighter when Arturo Gatti hit the canvas.This Saturday saw the emergence of a new star in Paul Williams. One career ends, another begin.